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Newport Beach Cuts Down Row of Eucalyptus After Tree Crushes Driver

Posted on September 27, 2011

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, the City of Newport Beach began cutting down and removing a row of aged eucalyptus trees after a motorist was crushed by one last week. Twenty-nine-year-old Haeyoon Miller had been waiting at a stoplight when a eucalyptus tree planted in the median along Irvine Avenue fell on her car, crushing her. She died at the scene.

City contractors were busy removing about 100 eucalyptus trees near the 17th Street intersection in Costa Mesa that had been planted decades before, when the area was rural, to protect bean fields from winds off the ocean. The City of Newport Beach is under contract with the City of Costa Mesa to maintain and take care of trees on the shared border, The Daily Pilot reports.

Some residents stated opinions in support of the decision to remove the trees, and some oppose it, according to the news story. Arborists determined the trees, planted as a windbreak, could have been compromised, since the structure of the trees—the roots and the canopies—support each other. Losing one tree can compromise the support for the other threes. Arborists told the city it should act before another tree could fall and injure someone. Four arborists came to the conclusion independently, according to The Daily Pilot’s story.

Bystanders gathered to watch the tree removal. One man stated he was present when firefighters removed the huge tree trunk that crushed Miller’s blue Hyundai hatchback.

 

Officials have not determined what caused the tree to collapse last week, and the investigation is continuing.  Since 2002, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach have had an agreement in which Newport maintains the trees on the boundary of the two cities. Officials from both cities state in the Pilot’s story that they are looking at other eucalyptus trees, with Newport examining around 330 others in town, and Costa Mesa examining 20 eucalyptus on Irvine Avenue’s west side.

We offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and all those who knew and loved Haeyoon Miller.

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